Harvey is on the way

Tropical Storm Harvey has made his final landfall this morning near Port Arthur, which is near the Texas/Louisiana border. Port Arthur picked up an astonishing 12.5″ of rain just last night. While the rain has now ended in Houston, catastrophic flooding will continue for the rest of the week as rivers rise in response to the extreme rainfall. Many locations around Houston received four feet of rain over the past week, which is about what they would get in a year! These are never-before-seen rainfall totals for Texas and the economic impact will be felt for years to come.

The storm has not only made its final landfall but has picked up a little speed. He has been in no hurry to leave Texas but they are more than ready to see him go. The clouds you see outside right now are from Harvey and they will thicken as we go through the day. Rainfall will begin moving in by later this afternoon and especially overnight. Tomorrow, the center of Harvey moves into Middle Tennessee and this is when we’ll have to be on the lookout for isolated tornadoes. If they occur, they will be weak and short-lived. I expect tornado watches to be issued Thursday afternoon. Heavy rainfall will also be possible. The tornado threat will subside overnight Thursday but rainfall will continue, along with some gusty winds. That will persist through Friday. We should get the bulk of this bad weather out of here by Saturday evening, which could lead to a decent Sunday.

Incidentally, today is the anniversary of when the remnants of Katrina arrived in our area in 2005. We picked up an inch of rain from that storm, but it was moving quicker than Harvey is. We also had wind gusts to 40 mph, and I would expect that with Harvey as well.  Katrina made its first landfall in south Florida as a cat 1 hurricane on Aug 25, 2005. The storm appeared to strengthen a bit after landfall, which is very rare (our first red flag that this was no ordinary storm). The hurricane finally dropped to tropical storm status just before finishing its trek across south Florida. At that point, all models indicated the weakened storm would get picked up by a front that was passing through the Southeast and move north into the panhandle of Florida as a cat 1 hurricane, at best. Instead, the storm took an odd turn to the southwest, which caused it to miss the front’s influence.

Katrina’s track

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This left Katrina sitting out in the very warm Gulf waters and under conditions perfect for rapid intensification. By the 28th, winds reached an astonishing 175 mph! Then, the storm took a horrific turn toward the north-northwest, putting it on a collision course with New Orleans.  Many thought this would be the Doomsday storm for New Orleans. It was a terrible storm but only because the levees couldn’t handle the flooding. A stalled tropical storm could have led to the same result. Katrina weakened to a cat 3 storm with winds of 125 mph at landfall and it tracked just to the east of New Orleans. Since it moved east of New Orleans, the worst wind, rain, and storm surge missed the city.  Interestingly, Cat 5 Hurricane Camille in 1969 took nearly the same path, sparing New Orleans. Flooding from Katrina was at its worst in surrounding neighborhoods of the city, especially in the Ninth Ward area. The famous Bourbon Street area only had about a foot of flood water, as it is more above sea level than surrounding areas.

Recovery continues in New Orleans and will for years to come. Now, we watch a similar situation unfold with Houston, though lessons learned in Katrina will hopefully make things go a bit smoother for Houston. Sadly, a lot of the folks who left New Orleans after Katrina relocated to Houston.

As a side note, Katrina made landfall late Sunday night and I taught my first Intro to Meteorology class at Western Kentucky at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. My first teaching assistantship as a grad student was off to a rowdy start! Need less to say, hurricanes were my first lesson! ha

I’ll be keeping an eye on Harvey’s remnants throughout the day today and tomorrow. Otherwise, enjoy this morning sunshine while it lasts!

Finally, today is exciting for me because my first weather article for the Fentress Courier comes out today! I’m anxious to see how folks like it….

Harvey’s Forecast Path

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